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Two upcoming conferences will focus on teen issues

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Two upcoming conferences will focus on choices and responsibilities faced by today’s teens.

The North Country Prenatal/Perinatal Council will host its annual “Teen Sexuality Conference” on Friday, while Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York will host its “Helping Teens Make Responsible Choices” conferences May 15.

Tina M. Cobb, youth services director for the council, said the Teen Sexuality Conference was put on hold last year for the first time in 13 or 14 years, because of funding cuts. This year’s conference will focus on teenagers, confidentiality and the law, and new drugs of abuse.

“The topics that were interesting to us were teen reproductive rights and drug trends,” she said Monday. “We try to bring speakers to the north country so people don’t have to travel outside of here.”

Barrie Genwanter, Central New York director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, will talk about teenagers’ reproductive rights and what mandated reporters should report or keep confidential.

“Kids are always concerned about their ability to access reproductive health rights without their parents knowing,” Mrs. Cobb said. “Many providers still encourage kids to talk to their parents.”

Meanwhile, Michele Caliva, administrative director of the Upstate New York Poison Center at Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, will do a presentation on recent drug trends and what hard drugs are resurfacing around the state.

Mrs. Cobb said this year’s conference came about as a result of input from school districts and providers.

Input from school districts has been important to both the council and Planned Parenthood since both agencies are seeing the same young adults who attend local schools.

Theresa S. “Tess” Barker, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, said since input from school personnel is most important, Planned Parenthood will figure out a way to get conference information to local schools after the conference.

“Due to tight budget constraints, we have few school personnel” attending, she said. “Hopefully, we’ll use stuff from this conference and be in touch with school administrators. We’d love to go to the school, not take away from the classroom, and do some enrichment.”

She said many health teachers, school nurses and guidance counselors would benefit from the 16 presentations May 15. Topics include teenage pregnancy in the north country, gay issues with youth, taking a stand against bullying and safe dating pointers.

“May is national teen pregnancy prevention month, and we looked at issues teens were dealing with today,” Mrs. Barker said. “In one way or another we’re all trying to do the same thing — make teens healthy.”

All presenters of the Planned Parenthood conference are from local agencies. Joleene DesRosiers, a former Central New York television reporter and current speaker and author, will offer opening remarks.

A few open spots for each conference remain. To register for the North Country Prenatal/Perinatal Council conference from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Best Western Carriage House Inn, 300 Washington St., call the council at 788-8533, ext. 221. The conference fee is $50 per person and includes lunch.

Reservations for Planned Parenthood’s 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 15 conference at the Black River Valley Club, 131 Washington St., which includes breakfast and lunch, can be made by calling Planned Parenthood at 782-1818, ext. 223. There will be a $75 conference fee.

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